(H&S) Hustles & Sharks – Table Critic Adviser

(About the Author)

Learn how to Beat the Sharks

This is another hustling trick that is common in most pool playing environments where the pool tables are not in excellent condition. It is commonly used against a player who is playing on the tables for the first time. The shooter might be a regular at another place but is checking out new places and players. Or he could be traveling and just happened to find this place. Of course, this does make you a new “victim” for the resident pool hustler.

This example describes how you could be sharked on an unfamiliar pool table. All tables have some condition problems – even the very best tables. And, face it, there are way too many pool tables that are in mediocre or even pool condition. The table conditions are unknown to you – and known to your pool hustling opponent. Regardless, it’s the match table of the moment.

If you are an experienced player who has played on many different tables, you know there are some table conditions to be discovered. You might even have a few ball rolling routines to identify table problems. Nonetheless, your opponent is the home player and familiar with the place.

The hustler starts this shark by being the perfect helpful sportsman – sharing with you details on the table’s problems. He opens with, “There’s a few things about this table you should know about.” He points out that on a slow roll, there are several areas on the table where the ball goes off line. He can point out a couple bad rail areas. He also gives you the secrets of the local workarounds.

Of course, he holds back on a couple table faults. When you discover them (which of course, helps you miss the shot), he apologizes and says something like, “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.”

The purpose of this shark is to fill your head with all of the possible table problems and conditions. This is to direct your attention and focus away from strategies and tactical options.

After a game or two, while you are absorbing this information and making adjustments to your shooting options, he “helpfully” piles on more information. Some examples are:

  • “The 1 ball has a chip, and the 4 ball has several nicks.”
  • “The cue ball sometimes rolls lop-sided.” (this can actually be a lie – but anything that forces you to shoot differently is good for him.)
  • “The rack makes it impossible to get a tight grouping of balls. Make sure you use this corner for the head ball. It’s marked with a piece of tape.”
  • “There is a dead cushion right there that makes banks impossible, no matter how hard you hit the object ball.”
  • “Be careful with the mechanical bridge. It has a sharp edge on one of the grooves that can damage your stick.”

By mid-match, you are tracking about 20 different table defects. With his helpful input, you are considering every possible problem (roll off, slow cloth, object ball throw, etc.). All of this mental work is on top the usual problems of picking speed, spin, and aim.

These additional concerns to be factored into each shot can make the effort extremely complicated. This is the state of mind the hustler wants you to experience.


Always be suspicious of anyone volunteering information. As a general rule in any pool game, volunteered information should always be suspect. Whatever is offered, be courteous and thank him for his contribution to your knowledge.

Regardless of any input, depend only on your own tests and examinations. Instead, concentrate on how he plays. Those observations tell the truth. Make shooting adjustments based on these discoveries.

Even if some initial information is verified as good, you can’t trust him not to insert a false tidbit at a later time. Proceed at your own best speed without dependence on your opponent.


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